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EchoStar to Introduce PocketDish

EchoStar Communications Corp. soon will learn whether its PocketDish will do for portable video players what Apple Computer's iPod did for MP3s. The PocketDish can store TV programs as well as music, games and photos. There are three versions with LCD displays of 2, 4 and 7 inches, and prices accordingly step from $329 to $499 to $599.

EchoStar, whose Dish Network is the second-largest U.S. satellite-television service, isn't the first company to offer a portable video player. But it is the first pay-TV service provider to enter the market, and its PocketDish offers the fastest downloads when paired with a specific Dish receiver. EchoStar hopes that feature will spur demand not only for PocketDish but also for Dish satellite service, as it battles for customers with rejuvenated cable providers and new competitors - such as phone companies - entering the video market.

Analysts are skeptical about how PocketDish will be received by consumers and say the gadget might be too pricey, and the technology too complicated, to create mass demand.

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